April 1, 2012 Volume 26, Number 04
Spotlight on Mission
Eurovangelism's three-prong approach brings hope to Eastern Europe
By Robert White | Special to ChristianWeek
MISSISSAUGA, ONEurovangelism wants to help transform Europe by helping the poor and needy.
"Our passion is to serve people who don't have a voice," says Eurovangelism executive director Kevin Campbell. Just back from a late-February trip to Albania, Campbell spoke of the great need in that country and how the Canadian-based office takes a three-pronged approach to meeting those needs.
Eurovangelism began in the mid 1960s after founder David Foster arranged to have Billy Graham speak to underground church leaders in Former Yugoslavia. Foster raised funds for the visit and ended up with a surplus that he gave to the struggling Czech churchwhich led to the ministry's start.
The Canadian office opened within three years and has had only three executive directors since its inception: John Murray, Brian Lise and Campbella former chaplain and pastor with a passion for the church in Eastern Europe.
The first prong of Eurovangelism's three-fold approach is ongoing humanitarian aid. Campbell cites the ministry's help during floods in Romania last summera disaster that "barely made the news" as an example. He also says a task as simple as raising money for firewood can have a significant effect on the lives of the less fortunate.
Campbell recalls a trip to Romania where he visited with Gypsies who were burning plastic pop bottles because they couldn't afford wood.
"It's not a romantic ministry," says Campbell, who suffered a partial lung collapse from breathing in the fumes.
In other areas, Harvest for the Hungry food parcels is often the most effective ways of establishing credibility and giving Eurovangelism workers an opportunity to talk about Jesus.
Church planting makes up the second prong in the ministry's approach. Citing the example of Bosnia, Eurovangelism's web site (www.eurovangelism.ca) notes "out of a total population of four million there are only 700 members of evangelical churches or groups…The same is true across the Balkans (South Eastern Europe) where there are villages, towns, even whole regions, where there is no witness."
Eurovangelism helps nationals, instead of missionaries, move to a new village, town or region to establish a small church or group.
Campbell says there are remnants of church buildings scattered across Eastern Europe and often nationals will go into a community, find both the physical and spiritual remnants of those congregations, and begin rebuilding both the building and the congregation.
The final prong is the need for education among the Eastern European poor.
Eurovangelism's unique plan sees them using the Alpha program to both educate and evangelize. Eurovangelism supervises the translation and publication of core materials as well as providing support and training for those running Alpha courses. It is currently providing Alpha resources and training in Albania (and Kosovo), Turkey, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Poland, Romania (and Moldova), Serbia, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
The ministry also runs educational programs such as the International School of Theology and Leadership in Albania. Run by Hervin and Sedika Fushekati, the school prepares young people to go into Albania and the world spreading the good news of the Gospel. Campbell explains that Fushekati is in his 30s and leads a church were the average age is in the early 20s.
"They're raising up nationals to lead their own people," says Campbell.
Eurovangelism's major challenge is finding the resourcesfinancial, material and personnelto meet these needs; support for a full-time worker in a church plant costs around $120 a month. In Albania it costs $38 for someone to go through an Alpha Course.
Albania's International School of Theology and Leadership is growing faster then the buildings can handle. Money is needed to buy the lower floor in the school building for use.
In 2010 Eurovangelism filled a 20-foot steel container on Canadian docks and sent it overseas to Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria with 300,000 servings of dehydrated vegetable soup mix, 1,600 pairs of boots, and 1,200 kilograms of granola/oats.
Campbell will lead a Vision Trip to Europe from September 20 to October 5. This gives supporters and interested parties a chance to witness Eurovangelism's work for themselves in Romania, Albania and Hungary with the trip ending in London, England and includes a visit to Holy Trinity Bromptonthe base of Alpha.
Meanwhile, a series of spring banquets and a May 12 Steve Bell concert are slated for Eurovangelism's Canadian fundraisers this year.
"The whole goal of the money we raise is to send as much of it into the field as we can, to get it to where it's needed," says Campbell.